February 17, 2013

Pevely Should Disincorporate

In the past year (plus a little more), three Missouri towns — St. George, Mack’s Creek, and Quitmanhave disincorporated. I particularly like the fact that a town named “Quitman,” well . . . quit. Uplands Park is now considering disincorporation, and another town needs to: Pevely.

Pevely, a small (but not tiny) town in Jefferson County, is having trouble on a number of fronts. It cannot pay for its employees’ health insurance, it cut fluoride from its water to save money, and it is staring down the barrel of a substantial judgment against it from a lawsuit. I am confident the troubles run even deeper.

Many small cities in Missouri, and especially in Saint Louis County, are having trouble providing a base level of services. For most of these situations, the county is better suited to provide local services in a cost-effective manner. Generally, this can be accomplished without raising overall county costs much, due to transferable taxes such as utility taxes, business licenses, state road funds, court fees, etc. (I am defining a transferable tax or fee as one where the tax is not layered. The city gets it if it is incorporated, and the county gets it if it is not.) This is especially true in Saint Louis County, where the sales tax pool comes into play.

Jefferson County has a solid county government system and it should take over services within the community of Pevely. Hopefully, Pevely can become another example of successful disincorporation in Missouri.

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